Tag Archives: loss

Departing Party People

CKBBAINO

Good morning, you marvellous creature!  I hope that today finds you well-rested, prepared for all of your meetings and up to date with your emails.

Life, as many famous people have said in a wide variety of trite and/or profound ways, is made up of entrances and exits.  Your life-long social circle can therefore be likened to a train station, a play or a party.  Let’s go with the party metaphor, shall we?  Help yourself to a symbolic beer and a non-existent cupcake.

Some people enter your life and immediately make themselves comfy on your favourite beanbag, whereas others may only poke their heads in, apologise profusely and back out again.  The problem, as anyone who has ever hosted a dinner party will know, is that an emotional seating plan is very hard to stick to when the guests keep switching chairs, dashing off to the loo or disappearing for AGES while they make a phone call.

In some cases (both in the metaphor and in reality), you sort of know that the party won’t really start until a certain person shows up.  In the metaphor that person is traditionally your other half/spouse/life partner.  In reality I have found that it’s usually my dear friend Mario, who is always as boisterous and tequila-laden as anyone could possibly hope for.  Other pro party starters include my good friends Baino and Cieranne (pictured above), who are probably both going to kill me for using that precise image.  (They look like they’re having fun though, don’t they?  Exactly.)

The other party guests can be very surprising: friends whom you used to adore may end up leaving early, and comparatively recent arrivals can emerge as the life and soul of the shindig.  In other words: sometimes you lose contact with people you thought you’d know forever, and someone you’ve known for a matter of weeks may already be one of your closest confidants.  C’est la vie – or soirée, if you will.

Sometimes the departure of one specific person can be difficult – particularly if that person was up for the role of life partner – but we have to trust that when someone leaves the party early, they’re making room for a first-class late arrival.  Unless the circumstances are particularly fraught, I don’t think that people ever really want to leave your life.  (Why would they?  You’re a HOOT.)  It’s just that parties are a law unto themselves, and life has a funny little habit of doing whatever it sodding well pleases.

The party is the thing, and the shape of your evening/life is defined by a whole bunch of entrances and exits.  When people exit your life, it may not be permanent.  When people enter your life, they might come bearing more booze.  Whatever the circumstances, all we have to do is answer the door with a smile and enjoy the festivities.

Well, I think I’ve tortured that metaphor quite enough now.  Have a glorious Tuesday.

Qualified for Life

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Hello, you marvellous creature.  How’s the world been treating you this week?

One of the consequences of working on a play like Chris is Dead – “an awkwardly funny, shamelessly honest story about love, loss and splitting the phone bill”, if you’re interested- is that it reminds me and the cast of how unprepared we feel for life’s big events.

As we get older we are more and more likely to come across situations that require a lot from us, whether that’s mentally (“oh dear God, A Levels”), physically (“oh dear God, Freshers’ Week”) or emotionally (“oh dear God, the Friends finale”).  The bizarre thing is that, A Levels aside, we never feel that our qualifications actually qualify us to deal with what life throws at us, do we?

When I was doing a Paediatric First Aid course a couple months ago, I freely admit that I never expected to have to use much (if any) of the information.  When I ran into a genuine First Aid issue at work a couple of weeks later, I felt pretty sick.  I knew I had the know-how somewhere in my head, but what if I forgot something really important?  What if I got it wrong?

I did remember what to do, and the child was fine, but the point is that I felt shockingly under-prepared, even though I had technically been trained.  How much worse is it to have to deal with emergency situations that we can’t possibly be trained up for?

You can’t take a course in Guiding a Friend Through Their Spiritual Epiphany (Diploma) or do a GCSE in Moving House Without Getting Completely Destroyed by Stress (and Inexplicably Losing the Kettle).  There are no night schools for those of us who don’t know what to say to a bereaved loved one, and no one has yet thought to suggest a degree in the whys and wherefores of navigating a tricky divorce.  This seems impractical, unfair and, frankly, a perfectly decent enterprise concept gone to waste.

Everyone is afraid that they are under-qualified for life.  For example, my mum has five kids, a mortgage and her own food mixer, but she would be the first to admit that she doesn’t feel like a grown-up.  Even so, she has always managed to handle scary/difficult life situations brilliantly.  As long as we are doing our best, we’re probably handling the situation as well as anyone could expect or require of us.  In a way, life experience and ageing in general is our nebulous equivalent to gaining a foundation degree in Responding to Crises Without Completely Losing It & Actually Coming Out of the Whole Thing Pretty Well.

It might not be as reassuring as a bona fide certificate with signatures and foil seals and whatnot, but trusting yourself to be up to the challenge is a massive part of dealing with whatever the issue is.  Even if you’ve somehow lost a kettle.

Have a truly splendid Wednesday.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mothers Day Banner

Good morning and Happy Mother’s Day!

Today is obviously a good day to tell your mum how much she means to you, and as soon as I’ve written this I will skidaddle off to Watford to do just that.  Before I do, I’d like to pay homage to some of the best mums I know:

  • The Single Mums

One of my best friends is a single mum, and she manages to juggle a career in the arts (and all the ambition, uncertainty and madness that goes along with it) with being a mum to a gorgeous little boy.  When I was a teenager I used to babysit for a single mum who had been through a lot of terrible things, but she was the most gentle, compassionate and fun person I’d ever met.  I have so much respect for single mums and dads who raise their children with high standards and a lot of love.

  • The Dear Departed Mums

My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a parent.  I can’t imagine the pain that that kind of loss entails.  To the mothers who are no longer with us: we miss you.  Thank you for the lives you made.  You have left your families with fond and happy memories, and they will think of you during good times and bad for the rest of their lives.  Your example will serve as an inspiration to your children whenever they have to make a decision or work through difficulties.

  • The Not Yet Mums

I am not a mother and neither is my house mate Ash, but she definitely takes care of me the way a mother would.  My life is full of maternal, compassionate people who are not mothers but will make damn good ones one day (except the boys; they’ll be terrible mothers), and I’m very grateful for them.  If you have a nurturing instinct you can guarantee that your friends adore you for it, because there’s an incredible sense of safety and confidence that comes from knowing someone will always look after you.

  • The Surrogate Mums

It might be because I’m very close to my family, but I’ve always thought it was important to make an effort to connect with my friends’ families.  Sometimes I have taken it too far: my two oldest friends’ mothers essentially dragged me up (and one of them was still force-feeding me vitamins when I was nineteen).  Wonderful, generous, warm-hearted women they may be, but they’re also honorary parents in my head.

  • My Actual Mum

My mother has given me so much: a terrible short-term memory, the tendency to leave mugs of coffee all over the place, four lunatic siblings whom I cannot live without, inspiration, a brilliant example, confidence, an education, humour and above all an enormous amount of love.  I am constantly bowled over by the lengths my mum will go to to look after her children, and I hope that if I ever become a mother I will be just like her: selfless, strong and incredibly kind.  (It’s highly likely that I will be more prone to sarcasm, forgetfulness and accidentally leaving my kids in shopping centres, but her characteristics are what I’ll be aiming for.)

Happy Mother’s Day one and all.  I hope that your Sunday involves awesome things like Yorkshire pudding.